Parental Leave // An overview


I originally shared this post on my blog a couple of years ago but with the holiday season looming and knowing how many people have no idea that Parental leave even exists, I wanted to share it again. 


Not to be confused with ‘Shared Parental Leave, (Ordinary) Parental Leave has gone relatively under the radar and a lot of parent’s aren’t aware of it. I wasn’t until last week and now I’m over the moon about it! Parental Leave is a right to take time off work to look after a child and can be used to spend more time with your little one(s) and strike a better balance between work and family commitments. Some of the reasons you may want to take Parental Leave include:

  • you want to take some extra leave after your Maternity or Paternity Leave
  • you’d like to spend more time with your child
  • settling your child into new childcare arrangements
  • looking at new schools

Entitlement //

You’re entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. Unless your employer agrees otherwise, the limit on how much Parental Leave each parent can take in a year is 4 weeks for each child and you must take Parental Leave as whole weeks rather than individual days. (If your child has a disability, you can take the leave in shorter periods than one week).

A ‘week’  is equal to the length of time an employee normally works over 7 days. For example I work 3 days a week, so a ‘week’ of Parental Leave for me is 3 days.

Eligibility //

You are eligible for Parental Leave if all of the following apply:

  • you have worked for your current employer for at least a year by the time you want to take the leave.
  • you are named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate
  • you have or expect to have parental responsibility
  • you’re not self-employed or a ‘worker’, eg an agency worker or contractor
  • you’re not a foster parent (unless you’ve secured parental responsibility through the courts)
  • your child is under 18

Notice Period //

You must give 21 days’ notice before your intended start date and unless your employer requests it, this doesn’t have to be in writing.

If your employer feels that the leave would disrupt business too much, or needs more time to arrange suitable cover, they can postpone your leave for up to six months but they must explain why they have postponed your leave within 7 days of the original request and they have to suggest a new start date that must be within 6 months of your requested start date.Your employer cannot postpone your leave if you apply to take some Parental Leave immediately after your baby’s birth, they don’t have a ‘significant reason’ to do so or it means you would no longer qualify for Parental Leave, e.g. postponing it until after your child’s 18th birthday.

What happens if you change jobs? //

Parental Leave applies to your child and is not related to your job, so should you change jobs, it’s up to you to keep a track of how many weeks you have used up and inform your new employer how many weeks you are carrying over from your previous job. Obtaining evidence of a new employee’s Parental Leave record, could be nigh on impossible for a new employer, especially if your child is in their late teens, so the focus will be on you to be honest about how much Parental Leave you have taken with previous employers.If you can afford to utilise Parental Leave, I think it’s a wonderful thing for parents. It allows me to have an extra 36 weeks off with Jack and Phoebe until they reach 18 and I’m sure it will come in incredibly handy during those long summer holidays. Although it is usually unpaid, it might be worth asking your employer if they offer paid Parental Leave as suprisingly some employers do, so check your employment contract and keep your fingers crossed!

This information is subject to change and has been written as a result of my own research at the time of writing. For more information check out

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
  • Mini TravellersAugust 21, 2015 - 6:44 am

    You know I wasn’t aware of this at all, so thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. #sharefridayReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyAugust 21, 2015 - 7:34 pm

      I was actually told my employer and overjoyed when I heard the news! xReplyCancel

  • HelpfulMumAugust 21, 2015 - 12:28 pm

    I didn’t know about this! Sadly as I’m self-employed I don’t get any leave.ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyAugust 21, 2015 - 7:35 pm

      Ah that’s a shame xReplyCancel

  • JessOctober 19, 2015 - 6:34 am

    I found it all so confusing when I was trying to sort mine out, I had holiday to take too so trying to figure it all out was hard, this makes it much more helpful to understand! I do think Dads should get longer off work, I know it would’ve helped me out massively! XReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:48 am

      I agree, although they can now share normal maternity leave which I think is great. This is just an added bonus on top of that xReplyCancel

  • chantelle hazeldenOctober 19, 2015 - 6:58 am

    a very helpful and informative post.ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:48 am

      Thanks Chantelle. xReplyCancel

  • JodieOctober 19, 2015 - 7:35 am

    This is definitely useful information. I was quite thankful to have a hubby who was selfemployed and went back to work after just a weekend of being off with us. It gave me the space to bond in my own way.ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:47 am

      A weekend, Wowser. The bonding does sound lovely though xReplyCancel

  • GeorginaOctober 19, 2015 - 7:49 am

    I wasn’t aware of this at all! So glad I read your post- my husband will be really pleased to know this! Thank you xxReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:47 am

      Glad it’s been of some help Georgina, I think it’s such an important allowance, especially for partners too. xReplyCancel

  • KateOctober 19, 2015 - 8:04 am

    I had heard of parental leave before but never knew it was as much as 4 weeks a year. That’s so handy to know, especially for things like settling into nursery etc.ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:46 am

      I was pleasantly suprised when I found out and so good for partners too. xReplyCancel

  • Emily LearyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:23 am

    Informative guide. There are details here I wasn’t really aware of.ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:45 am

      Thanks Emily. I think it’s one of those topics that most employed parents may not know much about but is so important to know about.xReplyCancel

  • KerryOctober 19, 2015 - 9:33 am

    A very interesting and helpful post, thank you for sharing. I’m on maternity leave atm and although don’t need parental leave it would have been handy a couple of years ago when i had Amelia xReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 19, 2015 - 9:44 am

      It’s handy to know isn’t it. I think it’s one of those things that most employed parents may not know about ( I didn’t first time around with jack) but will come in very handy, especially during the long summer hols / settling in at school etc. xReplyCancel

  • FabiolaOctober 19, 2015 - 11:05 pm

    Very interesting! We don’t have Parental Leave here in my home country.ReplyCancel

  • Emma TOctober 20, 2015 - 10:21 pm

    Ooh interesting. I vaguely knew about this, but don’t know anyone who’s taken it up. It could come in handy for time off for additional holiday cover. Don’t suppose you know if the contractor is as a contractor one someone else’s behalf, or if that includes someone working for the company for a fixed term?ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 22, 2015 - 7:18 pm

      I don’t know for certain sorry, I would check out the link and maybe call to ask.ReplyCancel

  • KerryOctober 24, 2015 - 7:37 am

    I have applied for parental leave in my work & it’s been declined, they state that it’s at a time when it’s not good for the businessReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyOctober 25, 2015 - 9:51 am

      Oh no! have they given you an alternative? xReplyCancel

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